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V2M
08-20-2006, 07:51 AM
Makes and Misses: The new gold standard
By Steve Kerr, Yahoo! Sports
August 18, 2006

Steve Kerr
Yahoo! Sports
Earlier in the week, I responded to feedback about the playoff seeding changes, Christmas Day games and three teams that can't afford to settle for the status quo (Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers).

Here are the emails that dealt with some of the offseason's biggest issues. But let's start things off with a couple of questions about the World Championships specifically the U.S. basketball team.

Again, keep the emails coming. Be sure to include your first and last name as well as your city and state. My comments are in italics.

Enjoy

TEAM USA

What is your thought about the U.S. team? I was able to catch the last quarter of the game against Brazil, and the win was not somewhat convincing. They were lucky to be awarded 10 free throws (they made eight of those) from technical fouls to lead by five after trailing by three late in the game. If not for Kirk Hinrich, who made six out of those eight free throws, I think they lose.

Ferdy de Leon
Quezon City, Philippines

Ferdy, I think Team USA is going to be much better than in recent years. Jerry Colangelo has instituted a program that makes sense. He's filled the roster with players who will play together, sacrifice their own egos and simply go out and play hard. And they've all made a three-year commitment, which means there will be some continuity to the team.

With the talent level of American basketball, a gold medal should be the norm in any international competition. But the rest of the world has raised the level of international play to the point where a gold medal for the U.S. will never be easy again. Team USA will have to be well-coached and unified to win, and I think this team is exactly that.

I'm a huge basketball fan from Kentucky, but the last few years I've been traveling the world from Korea to southeast Asia to South America and now I'm in England. I'm an avid reader of your column and have only missed a handful. I want your take on the USA Basketball squad. I don't know some of these younger players so well as I don't get to see many games anymore. Where's your analysis? I need you Steve.

Jeremy Toombs
England

Jeremy, thanks for the compliments. I appreciate them. I'll provide in-depth analysis of Team USA during the world championships. But my quick take after seeing them in a couple of exhibition games is that the Americans are going to be very tough to beat.

Unlike the last couple of U.S. national teams, the point guards are point guards. Kirk Hinrich and Chris Paul are distributors who will get their teammates involved and won't pout when they don't get to shoot. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are capable of taking over games with their scoring or passing. The team defense and ball pressure is key, and coach Mike Krzyzewski will use his team's speed and quickness to disrupt opponents. And offensively, Mike D'Antoni's knowledge of the international game will be a huge boost to Team USA. The U.S. will play small, versatile lineups that will drive opponents crazy much like the Suns do to NBA opponents.

All in all, I think this is going to be a fun team to watch and one that will be very successful.

NBA OFFSEASON

As an Indiana Pacers fan, I'm very confused by the state of the team and the direction it's going. Your column on three teams that are worse off didn't include them and I think they should have been mentioned. With all the talk about team chemistry and getting rid of the attitudes, you'd think they'd have moved Jamaal Tinsley and Stephen Jackson instead of good guys Anthony Johnson and Austin Croshere. What is Larry Bird doing? It's like we were so close to a title and now we're so far away.

Randy Miller
Miami

Randy, you got me on this one. The Pacers absolutely should have been included in my piece on teams who haven't improved this summer. In fact, they might warrant an article all to themselves. They've had talented teams the past few years but have been hampered by chemistry and character issues. Then, as you pointed out, they got rid of two of their solid guys, Johnson and Croshere. What have they done this summer? They added Marquis Daniels, who couldn't crack the Dallas Mavericks' rotation, and added two talented college players, Shawne Williams and James White, who slipped on other teams' draft boards due to character issues. Sounds to me like the more things change in Indiana, the more they stay the same.

Hi Steve. What scenarios do you see for Al Harrington especially with his recent hiring of power agent Arn Tellem? Do the Pacers still have a chance of landing him? Thanks.

Jay W. San Luis
Manila, Philippines

Jay, everything I'm hearing is that Indiana's trade for Harrington will still go through. The two teams are haggling over details of the deal, but it will probably get done this week some time. The Atlanta Hawks want a first-round pick and $3 million, but the Pacers are reluctant to give up that much money. But it doesn't appear that the trade is in jeopardy.

Dear Steve, do you really answer our emails? I have written the same question to you four times and still no reply. The Detroit Pistons sent Darko Milicic to the Orlando Magic for a draft choice. What happened to that draft choice? Hoping for a reply.

Ertuvan Kanatsiz
Orange, Calif.

Ertuvan, the fourth time is a charm. Orlando will receive Detroit's first round pick in the 2007 draft. In the meantime, the Pistons would probably love to have him back now that Ben Wallace is gone. Too late.

If Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming are healthy, is the addition of Shane Battier enough to get the Houston Rockets out of the lottery and to a level of respectability in 2006-07?

Billy V.
Katy, Texas

Billy, I loved the Battier trade. A lot of people felt the Rockets were dumb to bypass the star potential of Rudy Gay in favor of the defensive-minded, jack-of-all-trades Battier. But he's exactly what the Rockets need. He'll give them an edge defensively and a guy who busts his butt every night. I also think that second-round pick, Steve Novak, will really help Houston. He's a deadeye shooter who will complement T-Mac and Yao well. I see two keys for the Rockets: One, the health of their two stars. Without it, nothing else matters. And two, point guard play. Rafer Alston has to solidify the backcourt and run the show. If both of those things happen, Houston should be back in the playoffs.

What is your outlook on the New York Knicks this season with the current roster?

Okon
Staten Island, N.Y.

Okon, the Knicks stink.

The San Antonio Spurs must have support for Tim Duncan if they are going to remain competitive. They got Francisco who? This guy is no answer. Just look at his stats. As it is now, T.D. has to do all the rebounding and this has to take a toll on him particularly with the more physical teams. Is there any possible reason why the Spurs cannot get Kevin Garnett? He wants out of Minnesota, he wants to be on a winner and win a championship. Most of all, with him, the Spurs would be dialed in and win any playoffs. If salary is a problem, the Spurs are going to be dropping salary this year with the number of players that will not be returning. Put out that money for K.G. and fill in with a few lesser known and lower-paid players. Where am I going wrong?

Milton Ploudre
San Antonio, Texas

Milton, you're right. The Spurs should trade for K.G. And while they're at it, they should pick up Shaq and LeBron, too. Then they'd be unstoppable.

Milton, maybe you ought to think about it from the Minnesota Timberwolves' perspective. Who do they want on San Antonio's roster besides Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili or Duncan? They'd have to take back 20 million bucks in salary from the Spurs to make the trade work. If you can come up with a trade that makes sense for both teams, call Kevin McHale.

Do you think K.G. will become a Laker?

Lonnie
Atchison, Kan.

Lonnie, I don't think K.G. will be a Laker. If you're Kevin McHale, what's the motivation to trade him at all? McHale has to be near the end of his rope in Minnesota, so what he needs more than anything is a good season for the Wolves. If they win 50 games and make the playoffs, maybe McHale hangs onto his job. And the best chance to do so is with K.G. wearing Minnesota blue. The other part of the equation is this: Who do the Los Angeles Lakers have that Minnesota would want? (Other than Kobe Bryant, of course, and L.A. isn't trading him.) When you trade a superstar, it's impossible to get back equal value. So I see K.G. staying put for a while.

So how has that crow been tasting this offseason? I heard a little barbecue sauce can solve almost any bad tasting dishes. The Miami Heat are defending champions because players like James Posey, Alonzo Mourning and Udonis Haslem stepped up when needed. Like you said, Shaquille O'Neal and Wade would get their points like they did, but it was the contribution from everyone that won that title. Anyway, I like Miami's chances again this season with one of the best overall players (D-Wade) extending his contract and Big Daddy Diesel coming back to defend.

Glen Bramlitt
Jacksonville, Fla.

Glen, the crow has been very tasty, thank you. I've been eating it all summer. Being a California guy, I prefer mine with guacamole on a tortilla. Oh, and by the way, while I haven't made my picks yet for next season, I have made one decision: I won't be picking the Heat to repeat. Too old. Sorry Glen, but they're going to have to shock me again. And if they do, I'll pile some more crow on my plate next year.

Steve, how about taking on the following questions in future columns: In addition to Miami, Dallas and San Antonio, what teams are likely to go deep into next year's playoffs and why? Follow-up questions: Which team(s) are most improved on the basis of the draft and free-agent activity? Which unsung or little-known players are NBA fans going to hear a lot about next season? Who will have a breakout kind of year?

Terry Tyrpin
Schaumburg, Ill.

Terry, you'd make a great editor those are all great story ideas. But it's mid-August. Can't I just sit back, enjoy the summer and break down the NBA in a month or so? Don't worry. I'll be touching on all of those subjects very soon, believe me!

Why does everyone hate the Utah Jazz?

Micah Anderson
Laverkin, Utah

Micah, who is everyone? I know plenty of people who like the Jazz. The problem is, it's tough to finish up such a fantastic 15-year run with Stockton and Malone and then come up with a team that is equally as entertaining. The goal for Utah the next couple of years is to continue to build on what I think is a solid foundation. I'm a big Andrei Kirilenko fan. Deron Williams is the point guard of the future and I loved the Ronnie Brewer selection. The key is Carlos Boozer, though. If he's healthy, the Jazz have a formidable front line, or a great asset they can use in a trade. But overall, I think this has a chance to be the best Utah team since the retirement of the Big Two.

I am anxiously awaiting your preseason rankings. How soon can we expect that?

Scott Levenson
Gilbert, Ariz.

Scott, the preseason rankings will be out sometime in October. Sit back, watch a little football and maybe keep an eye on the pennant races. October will be here before you know it. Thanks for the inquiry!

I was wondering if the ass that wrote the things about Eddie Johnson of our Phoenix Suns is going to lose his job. And how much is he going to be sued? E.J. should kick his ass for writing that story.

Rod
Mesa, Ariz.

Rod, that was a very unfortunate story about "the other Eddie Johnson." I played with the Phoenix Eddie Johnson and he's one of the best guys I've ever met in the league. I feel badly that his name and picture were mistakenly posted on a national website. That was incredibly irresponsible.

ASK STEVE

Steve, will you ever get into coaching at some level?

Joseph Weipert
Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta

Joseph, I'd like to try my hand at coaching at some point, but right now I'm very happy commentating and writing about the NBA and raising my kids. Once they're out of high school, I'll probably want to get more involved in the NBA, either in management or coaching if the opportunity is there.

Steve Kerr is Yahoo! Sports' NBA analyst. Send him a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Saturday, Aug 19, 2006 2:58 am EDT

spreedom
08-20-2006, 07:54 AM
Steve Kerr is an absolute joke.. I am so completely annoyed with him at this point, that I usually watch his half of the TNT doubleheaders on mute.. which is a shame, because Marv Albert's play-by-play is so solid..